Obama administration halts appeal on Plan B

Baptist Press
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Posted: Jun 19, 2013 5:22 PM

WASHINGTON (BP) -- One version of the "morning-after" pill now is available to girls of all ages.

The Obama administration informed a federal judge June 10 that it would end its appeal of his ruling that struck down age restrictions for a drug that has the potential to cause abortions. Its action means even pre-teen girls may purchase the drug over the counter.

The decision involves Plan B One-Step, a brand of the "morning-after" pill, which also is known as emergency contraception. The drug, however, has a secondary mechanism that can cause an abortion.

Plan B One-Step and other "morning-after" pills can restrict ovulation in a female or prevent fertilization, but they also can block implantation of the early embryo in the uterine wall. The latter effect causes an abortion.

Once the Food and Drug Administration approves Plan B One-Step for unrestricted sale, companies manufacturing one-step generic pills -- such as Next Choice One Dose -- are expected to apply for FDA approval, according to The New York Times.

Pro-lifers decried the Obama administration decision while abortion rights advocates applauded.

The action "is a clear example of the administration's willingness to put politics ahead of the health and safety of girls," said Anna Higgins, director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. "We are disappointed that this administration has once again sided with its political allies and ignored the safety of girls and the rights of parents."

In 2011, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, established 17 years old as the minimum age for a female to purchase Plan B One-Step. Even when the FDA lowered that age limit to 15 in April, it was insufficient for federal judge Edward Korman, who had ordered sale of the pill without a prescription or age restriction.

The "morning-after" pill is basically a heavier dose of birth control pills that include one-step versions -- such as Plan B One-Step and Next Choice One Dose -- and two-step versions such as Plan B and Next Choice. The Obama administration has not agreed to lift the age restriction on two-step methods because of concern girls may not be able to use them safely, The Times reported.

The one-step version must be taken in a single dose within 72 hours after sexual intercourse. Under the two-part regimen, a woman takes a pill within 72 hours and another dose 12 hours later.

Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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